Ivan the Space Biker
|The contents of this article have been cut.|
The subject matter of this article contains in-development information that was cut from the final version of an official and/or canonical source and appears in no other canonical source. It may also contain incomplete information since not all cut material is publicly known.
This article is about the early character. For his successor, see Gordon Freeman.
Ivan the Space Biker is the nickname given to the original scientist character model created for the player during the early stages of Half-Life's production. His design eventually evolved into Gordon Freeman.
Ivan was first unveiled to the public alongside the game's initial announcement on May 27, 1997. Presented as an unnamed character, he was featured in one of the press release's two screenshots which was named "
halfldoctorback.bmp". He was portrayed as a square-headed, wide-eyed man with a flattop haircut, a full and wild beard resembling that of an archetypal biker, and wearing a bulbous bronze space suit-like outfit (which became the HEV Suit) with the word "Research" written on the back.
He was later featured as the player in the Half-Life Alpha, most notably in the multiplayer where he's the default and sole model available. Several promotional screenshots were released around this period depicting multiple Ivans engaging in deathmatch mode in an early version of the map Stalkyard.
Ultimately, Ivan was cut from the final game as his design was heavily retooled into the character that would eventually be named Gordon Freeman, including taking Ivan's beard and reducing it into Gordon's goatee. Of note, though, is that Ivan's design already possessed some similar characteristics, such as his brown hair and green eyes.
Behind the scenes
The concept for what became Ivan was originally started by Valve artist Harry Teasley. His concept was simply a bearded man in an Apollo mission-style space suit featuring a metal ring collar for a helmet and the outfit appearing bulky, looking like a heavy-duty environment suit that a scientist might wear when working at a secret government research facility. The bulkiness was meant to give the suit more visual weight without making the character a superhero-type. Teasley was inspired by several bearded computer programmers he had worked with by that point, including fellow Valve employee Ken Birdwell. However, he didn't finish the concept as artist Chuck Jones began creating the model with his own intentions, not following Teasley's ideas. The unexpected end result elicited the nickname "Ivan the Space Biker". The model's prospect of being the game's protagonist didn't last long as it was only created as a quick prototype.
Dubbed a "cyber-lumberjack" by the developers, Ivan did not fit the team's vision for the player character as they were aiming for someone that was identifiable and the antithesis to the typical FPS game characters of the time, instead being thoughtful, introspective, and college-educated. Slimming down Ivan's bulky dimensions was one of their first changes. In the end, Ivan was intended mainly just for screenshots and multiplayer so players could see what the character looked like. Rather than attempt to tweak him, Ivan was thrown out completely along with most of the game materials that had been created up to that point as part of the project's restarted development in late 1997.
The model, "
doctor.mdl", can be found in some releases of Half-Life, including the Steam release, but it can't be used in-game since it uses an early version of the GoldSrc engine's model format. However, it is correctly recompiled for Half-Life: Source, making it viewable and usable in the Source version. In the Half-Life Alpha, the model contains several animations which don't play, including running, turning, shooting, and jumping sequences. It's always shown with the 9mm Pistol equipped, although players can switch to and fire other weapons. The Alpha also contains three unused Ivan models with alternate skins for his suit color: red, green, and blue. These are seen in a staged screenshot seemingly intended to portray a multiplayer match.
Ivan with a security guard.
Multi-colored Ivans battling soldiers.
Ivan in an early version of Stalkyard.
Ivan firing an RPG.
List of appearances
- Half-Life on Steam (Game files only) (First appearance) (Non-canonical appearance)
- Half-Life: Source (Game files only) (Non-canonical appearance)
- Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar, page 30
- Harry Teasley on Ivan the Space Biker (August 3, 2014)
- The Cabal: Valve’s Design Process For Creating Half-Life on Gamasutra (December 10, 1999)
- News Archive on Blue's News (May 27, 1997)
- Sierra On-Line Secures Rights for Half-Life on Official Sierra website (May 27, 1997) (archived)
- Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar (uncorrected proof), page 47
- Chat log on Josh Karg's personal website
- Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar (uncorrected proof), page 40